Games I Finished in 2021
1. Without Escape
Kind of reminds me of Decay - The Mare. It's a point-and-click horror game with pre-rendered backdrops that actually look kind of nice, particularly the "alternate universe" ones. Very much a game designed for the auteur, as the game's plot feels like you're experiencing the creator's fever dream. Game can be completed in less than 1 hour and is an easy 1000G.
2. Castle of No Escape
Easiest 3000G of my life so far. Wanted to play it before Microsoft made them revert their achievement setup.
See "Castle of No Escape".
4. Castle of No Escape 2
5. Mad Max
Played it in 2020, finished it in 2021. Came out during a stretch where movie-based tie in games started to shake off the stigma of being boring, soulless cash grabs to coincide with their respective movie releases. Tried and true “Batman: Arkham Asylum” combat mechanics that feel awesome, especially the various finisher moves. Plenty of badass looking vehicles to roam around in.
6. Pity Pit
7. Planet of the Eyes
A side-scrolling 2D puzzle-platformer with some great art direction. Puzzles are largely physics-based and while they present nothing overly ambitious, they're presented and executed well enough in a simple manner. Good soundtrack and good narration.
8. The Shapeshifting Detective
A fun and somewhat challenging investigative FMV game. Great acting performances. Did 3 playthroughs and got three different killers which was great. Easy to accuse the wrong person of the crime due to the branching story paths and subtle clues when interviewing suspects.
Basically if Deus Ex or Bladerunner were reimagined as a 2D, pixel art, side scroller. Art Direction is great; it really captures that dystopian cyberpunk aesthetic. Combat is kinda 'meh'. Guns don't feel all that powerful and basic enemies take more than a few shots to go down. Hand-to-hand combat is very simplistic and kind of repetitive. Overall size and scope of the game for an indie title is quite good. The story kind of lost me at certain parts.
10. L.A. Noire
Started playing it on the Xbox 360 shortly after it came out. Stopped playing it before I completed the Homicide desk cases and I don't know why... Picked it up on Xbox One like 8 or 9 years later and I'm glad I finished it. Unique and challenging core gameplay loop when it comes to investigations and interrogations. They're easy to mess up and there are branching plot paths depending on what you get right or wrong during an investigation. Great art direction that really captures the late 1940's Los Angeles from the cars to the fashion to the architecture. Character movement and vehicle control both feel kind of floaty and awkward at times.
11. Battlefield Hardline
An interesting and refreshing take on the Battlefield IP. Story was quite good, better than most other Battlefield games I've played so far. The more open-ended, mini-sandbox levels provided multiple avenues of attack and can cater to various play styles (long range, stealth, guns blazing etc.). Still absolutely nails the urban warfare setting. Shooting feels great, as per usual with the Frostbite engine. Great production value that made it feel like a TV show. Killer licensed soundtrack.
Went for a magic and guns build. A decent, fantasy RPG title with a 12-15 hour story that got stretched out to a 30-35 hour game. Fairly easy to pick up and play for some one who isn't all that familiar with these types of RPGs. Kind of reminds me of the early Dragon Age games, so I get where the comparison to "OG Bioware" come from when describing Greedfall.
14. Battlefield 4
Aside from a shaky launch, this is still a great Battlefield game. Liked that the game had three different endings. Shooting feels great. AI companions felt almost useless in the campaign story.
15. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
A fun, cheesy, over-the-top open world game with a ton of campy 80's influences and styles. Felt smaller in scale to Far Cry 3, but I didn't mind it. The world felt better optimized without all of the tedious commuting from one location to another. Good movement speed and good shooting. Vehicles felt a little unnecessary due to the smaller world. Enemies have a cool, cyberpunk aesthetic to them. Wildlife are more or less carryovers from Far Cry 3. Blood Dragon enemies are well designed and terrifying to fight.
16. I Am Alive
The world it creates give you feeling of a very dark and hopeless existence. Skeletal remains litter the streets, violent gangs roam around and most survivors are hanging on by thread. I'm highly ambivalent towards the graphics. I get that everything is shrouded in dust from this cataclysmic event, so everything should look muddy and your vision should be drastically reduced. But the textures look low-quality, character models are kind of rough and the draw distance is terrible. Unreal Engine 2 was really showing its age here. Story was kind of vague, but still open to interpretation. Having a stamina limit was nice addition to the climbing aspect, but the actual mechanics felt kind of rough. Combat encounters were frustrating and resulted in a lot of trial and error deaths.
17. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
My first "pleasant surprise" game of the this year. Easily the best entry in the Call of Juarez series. Shooting feels way better than any of the other games. Love the cell-shaded art style. Blood effects are really cartoony and over the top; blast a guy with a double barrel shotgun and watch an eruption of blood shoot out of his chest. Surprisingly good story with Silas as a well developed main protagonist. Duelling mechanics are less bullshit which is a huge plus. Great soundtrack.
18. Saints Row: The Third
The game where the Saints Row franchise began to distinguished itself from being a GTA clone. A fun, quirky, over-the-top, open world sandbox game with plenty of great action set pieces. Combat is incredibly fun, especially when your cracking guys in the head with a giant dildo, performing WWE-style take down moves in unarmed combat or gunning down mascots with dual SMGs in a Running Man style game show. Awesome licensed soundtrack. Just an incredibly fun game to play.
Bought it thinking it was going to a shovelware game that's an easy 1000G. Turns out it plays and looks way better than I thought it had any right to be. Beautiful art direction with varied environments and gameplay mechanics. Primarily a 3D platformer game with some physics-based puzzles. Great looking cutscenes, something I wasn't expecting at all. Has a good story that's definitely thought-provoking, accompanied by some great narration.
20. Call of Juarez: The Cartel
Easily the weakest entry in the CoJ series and an all around poor FPS game. It's a much more story-centric game with a lot of cinematic cutscenes. It does away with the Old West motif of the previous games, opting for a more contemporary, paramilitary style FPS. The shooting feels particularly bad with shotguns and sniper rifles being borderline useless. The character models look ugly. There are various audio and sound glitches where the timing is off or the sounds just don't play. Various NPC models have been clearly copied and pasted. My AI characters would no clip through NPCs while walking around during one of the levels. If playing solo, driving sequences leave you nearly defenceless as your AI teammates can't aim for shit and you have a screen that looks like it's just had raspberry jam smeared all over it.
21. Rise of the Tomb Raider
Another fun instalment of the Tomb Raider reboot series. Great action set pieces. Fluid climbing and platforming mechanics. Great art and level design. "Expeditions" mode offers some arcade-style "Score Attack" levels that are short and fun. Ashly Burch voicing the main character in the "Baba Yaga" DLC was a pleasant surprise.
22. Rogue Warrior
One of those games that's bad to the point to where I come back around to feeling slightly good about it. Unintentionally hilarious dialogue such as "Suck my balls, my hairy fucking big balls. Wrap them around your fucking mouth." or "GODDAMN COCKBREATH COMMIE MOTHERFUCKERS!". The main character drops curse words like they're going out of style. Ridiculously short campaign with a comically cliched plot. Janky character animations. Shooting feels mediocre and occasionally suffers from poor hit detection. Gruesome stealth take down moves that looked awesome, but were insulting easy to pull off since most unalerted characters conveniently have their backs to you. There was some potential for a decent stealth/action FPS, but was largely never recognized.
23. Journey to the Savage Planet
Highlight of the game was definitely the world they've created within the game. A really unique, colourful, beautiful alien world that shows off the games art direction. Main campaign felt kind of threadbare; was done in just under 7 hours and that was with me getting stuck/dying on a few platforming and puzzle sections. Exploration is really fun when the game opens up via the double jump and grappling hook upgrades. Simple and effective core gameplay loop. Post campaign content is mainly just collectible and crafting related, but with no real way of tracking their objectives via a map or nav icons. There's a good game here, overall, but I don't think this one's for me.
24. Donut County
A fun, casual game with a simple but engaging core gameplay loop. Really liked the simple, colourful art style and the sense of humour in the game's writing. A quick and easy 1000G Game Pass completion.
25. South Park: The Stick of Truth
A hilarious and fun game that made turn-based combat not a chore for me. Great for both hardcore and more casual South Park fans. Story was self contained well enough that you don't really need to have followed the show to know what's going on in the game. Plenty of hilarious/memorable set pieces like the 2D, retro-style, RPG level in Canada or fighting a giant Nazi Zombie fetus for a boss fight.
26. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
Just a rushed, incredibly mediocre TV tie-in game. Melee combat has almost no feedback, save for the one or two repeated stagger animations you can trigger with the walkers. Sound effects for the Hatchet glitched on me and wouldn't register any sound. Shooting is also incredibly mediocre, save for seeing walker heads explode into a red mist. Survival mechanics are interesting enough at the start, but by the end I had plenty of ammo, fuel and food supplies and never really ran out. The final level in the stadium is the only remotely interesting level that's not just copied and pasted again and again.
27. Through the Woods
The premise of designing the game around Norwegian mythology was interesting. Some beautiful, mountainous regions in some of the later sections of the game. Mostly a dark forest walking simulator. No combat mechanics, but enemy encounters were almost a non-factor. Voice acting was not that great and cutscenes felt weirdly paced and framed. A lot of areas felt unnecessarily dark and lost some of the levels' atmosphere. Ending was kind of upsetting and perhaps one of the few memorable moments in the game.
28. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
A great game on almost every level, except for the combat. Beautiful and eerie audio design accompanied by a great story and striking environments. Mostly one dimensional puzzles that involved finding "Rune" shapes found somewhere in the level. Great voice acting and cutscene performances gave off a sense of high production value. Combat felt kind of slow and clunky. The dodge mechanic never really felt effective enough for me.
29. Mafia: Definitive Edition
Graphically, it's a beautiful remastering of Mafia. Good voice acting with a high production value overall. Great story and character arc for Tony Angelo. Need to fix the shooting and driving in that game because both are dreadful! Be able to mess around in "Free Roam" mode was nice as well.
30. The Language of Love
Essentially paid $6.39 CAD to earn 1000G in 5 minutes.